from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
Volume 2009, Issue No. 96
December 4, 2009

Secrecy News Blog:


At a time when U.S. news organizations are shedding jobs at an alarming rate, the People's Republic of China has been hiring a growing number of reporters from outside of China.

"Since July of this year, Xinhua's English-language service-- China's official news service for English-language audiences -- has hired several experienced Western journalists to serve as overseas correspondents," according to a new report from the DNI Open Source Center (OSC).

"Following Xinhua's introduction in 2003 of bylines on items filed in English, OSC has observed that the number of non-Chinese correspondents employed by the news agency has grown to more than 80. Most of these new hires, however, have been non-Western reporters."

The OSC report has not been approved for public release, but a copy was obtained by Secrecy News. See "China -- Xinhua's Growing Ranks of 'Foreign' Correspondents," Open Source Center, November 5, 2009:

Another new OSC report notes that state-owned China Central Television has "dropped a number of talk shows and pre-recorded news magazine programs in favor of a heavy focus on live newscasts and news commentaries." See "China -- Revamped CCTV-News Channel Increases Live Casts, Commentary," November 5, 2009 (large PDF):


The Director of the Congressional Research Service fired the chief of its Foreign Affairs, Defense and Trade Division after he criticized Obama Administration policy on prosecuting Guantanamo detainees in a Wall Street Journal op-ed last month.

Morris Davis, a former chief prosecutor at Guantanamo who has been at CRS for the past year, argued that current U.S. policy on trying detainees amounted to a double standard. "The administration must choose," he wrote in the Journal on November 10. "Either federal courts or military commissions, but not both, for the detainees that deserve to be prosecuted and punished for their past conduct."

This was too radical a statement for Daniel Mulhollan, the CRS Director, who terminated Mr. Davis effective December 21. It was a surprising move, for several reasons. First, Mr. Davis's op-ed did not identify him as a CRS employee and he was clearly not representing that organization. To the contrary, he is well-known to have independent standing and expertise to discuss military commissions. Second, U.S. policy on military commissions is not within the purview of Mr. Davis's division at CRS and so the possibility that his work there might be biased by his public position would not even arise.

The American Civil Liberties Union was expected to issue a letter today urging CRS to reverse its action. See "Top Congressional Researcher on Afghanistan Fired" by Michael Isikoff, Newsweek Declassified blog, December 3:

Mr. Mulhollan has previously punished some of his organization's most capable experts for publicly expressing their own professional judgments. In 2006, a clash between him and Louis Fisher, the former CRS constitutional law expert, led to the departure of the latter, who was quickly hired by the Law Library of Congress. ("More Turmoil at the Congressional Research Service," Secrecy News, February 9, 2006.)

New CRS reports not previously made available to the public include the following:

"China's Assistance and Government-Sponsored Investment Activities in Africa, Latin America, and Southeast Asia," November 25, 2009:

"Venezuela: Issues in the 111th Congress," November 17, 2009:


According to a new U.S. Army field manual, when a soldier is about to throw a hand grenade at any enemy target he should normally follow the specified procedures and assume one of five authorized positions (standing, kneeling, etc.). However, "If a Soldier can achieve more distance and accuracy using his own personal style, he should be allowed to do so...." See "Grenades and Pyrotechnic Signals," U.S. Army Field Manual 3-23.30, October 2009 (large pdf):

Other noteworthy new U.S. military doctrinal publications include the following.

"Marine Corps Space Policy," Marine Corps Order 5400.53, September 28, 2009:

"Joint Urban Operations," Joint Publication 3-06, November 8, 2009:

"Counterterrorism," JP 3-26, November 13, 2009:


Government secrecy is becoming an increasingly popular field of inquiry in academic circles, with several upcoming conferences and journals devoted to the subject.

The journal "Research in Social Problems and Public Policy," edited by Susan L. Maret, has issued a call for papers on "the problem of government secrecy," including theoretical and comparative treatments.

The Collaboration on Government Secrecy at American University's Washington College of Law will address "Transparency in the Obama Administration: A First-Year Assessment" on January 20, 2010. A webcast of a program last month on "The State of the State Secrets Privilege" is now available here:

A two-day workshop on "Open Government: Defining, Designing, and Sustaining Transparency" will be held at Princeton University on January 21-22, 2010:

The journal "Social Research" will host a conference on "Limiting Knowledge in a Democracy" (in which I will participate) at the New School in New York City on February 24-26, 2010 described here:


Secrecy News is written by Steven Aftergood and published by the Federation of American Scientists.

See also "Reducing Government Secrecy: Finding What Works" by Steven Aftergood, Yale Law and Policy Review, vol. 27, no. 2, Spring 2009:

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